We all know getting ice-cold and properly carbonated beer can sometimes be a struggle. From coolers that last only a couple of hours or less, to kegs that can be complicated to access or keep cold, beer often comes out stale or too warm to really be enjoyed fully.
If you’re looking for a long-term solution to beer-related problems, kegerators might be the solution to your quest. Kegerators can store various amounts of beers and different sized kegs like half barrel, quarter barrel, sixth barrel and cornelius barrel and they’ve been popular for just a few decades, but they’ve changed the way we approach beer conservation.
You might be asking:
Just what is a kegerator and how can it help you keep your beer fresh and carbonated? Luckily, we will explain that to you and more.
What is a Kegerator?
In simple terms, a kegerator is a specialized appliance created to store beer at optimum temperature and dispense it through a tap when desired. The word itself comes from the combination of the word “keg” and “refrigerator.”
As the name suggests, the appliance is basically a refrigerator large enough to contain one or several kegs of beer. A dispenser on top gives easy access to the beer itself when desired.
The kegerator became popular during the early 80’s, when home brewing was reinstated as a legal practice after being outlawed during the prohibition era. Although as a device, it was probably conceived sometime in the early 1900s.
Kegerators can come in all shapes and sizes according to function and need. Some are very large, can contain multiple kegs and have several taps. Most commonly though, kegerators can fit comfortably behind a home bar to be easily used for home recreation.
How Does It Work?
The kegerator uses a fairly simple mechanism. The CO2 is supplied to the keg through a cylinder which maintains the pressure on the beer even throughout its surface. The cylinder with the CO2 is connected to a regulator.
This can be used to regulate the pressure applied to the surface of the beer. The valve used to tap the beer is called a coupler and it uses a separate tubing for input and output. One tube leads from the regulator to the coupler and the other from the coupler to the faucet.
That way, the regulator controls how much carbonation is in the beer that gets to the tap.
How Long Does Beer Last in a Kegerator?
Tapped and Untapped
The first factor to consider is whether the beer has been tapped or not. If the keg is intact and kept in the refrigeration compartment, the beer can virtually last as long as desired.
When tapped, it’s still the case that the beer will last a very long time, from a few months to even years. Generally, this also depends on the type of beer and the efficiency of the system.
Provided the parameters for carbonation and temperature are set well for the specific type of beer, the keg will stay fresh longer than it will take you to finish it.
A good estimate is to go for around 38 degrees Fahrenheit and 15-20 psi CO2. However, you should seek out specific information for your type of beer.
Changes in Flavor
It is important to note that even though the beer will not go bad if kept in the kegerator for long periods, the flavor might change over time. This is due to natural processes within the beer itself. Hop-driven beers especially will lose aroma over time.
If you’re storing beers like IPA, just know that the beer will remain unchanged for 1-2 months, depending on other factors. The flavor itself will become more malt-forward and sweet within 3 months.
Take some time to find out what happens over time to your type of beer if you want to know what to expect with long refrigeration.
If you’re planning to keep your beer in a kegerator for a long period of time, make sure the unit is properly maintained and kept clean. The taps and lines will get dirty long before the beer actually gets spoiled.
Dirty taps and lines will make the beer taste badly, so make sure you regularly clean and air them. This will also keep bacteria away from any interaction with the beer itself.
Why It Needs CO2?
Essentially, the CO2 in a kegerator keeps your beer properly carbonated. Every keg of beer initially has a certain amount of CO2 in it. As the beer gets dispensed, the CO2 expands and pushes the beer up until it gets to the tap. Then, it is released into the air.
This means that some of the CO2 in the keg gets lost every time the beer is dispensed. Eventually, the beer will lose most of its carbonation and will taste flat. Most commonly, beer is pushed out of kegs using an air pump.
This is the most common scenario at garden parties. This means that as you dispense the beer, the pressure in the keg is kept constant by filling up the increasing space with air. Air contains oxygen, which reacts with the beer and eventually lowers its carbonation.
This is why beer tapped in this way will only stay fresh for a few hours. By the end of the party, the beer generally tastes flat and too warm. The kegerator gets around this problem by keeping the pressure constant through CO2 instead of air.
The system supplies CO2 to the beer constantly, always keeping its percentage stable regardless of how many times it is dispensed. This way, you will always have carbonated, fresh-tasting beer.
Now you know and understand how long does a keg last in a kegerator. If you’re passionate about home brewing or simply have a lot of garden parties, getting a kegerator is an excellent way to preserve and store your beer for months at a time.
By keeping the beer at a constant temperature and making sure carbonation also stays constant regardless of how much beer is actually in the keg, you’ll always have fresh and great-tasting beer.
The kegerator is a great investment for both businesses that regularly keep large amounts of beer on hand and for everyday people that are interested in having a reliable storage for their home brewed beer.